Daddy-Son Morning

A Rare Blog Post from Keith:

Well, I am happy to finally be writing a post about my highly anticipated Daddy-Son morning in Istanbul. This was high priority, as security restrictions in our country rarely, if ever, allow for outings such as these.

And, before we begin, one important note about Daddy-Son day. There is only one rule:

First things first...boats! Benjamin loves boats, so we walked down to the docks around 7:30 AM to watch all of the ships coming in and leaving. The air was cool and clear as we watched for nearly half an hour. It was great to hear him yell "Boat! Boat!" when he saw one coming in. As one would leave he would say, "Bye, bye boat."

Our next stop was to take a long walk up the hill to Gulhane Park. Benjamin doesn't have much grass to play in back home, so Gulhane became a regular spot for him to run around and play with leaves and sticks. Here's a shot in front of the fountain that ran around nearly 1,465 times. Look at the satisfaction on that face...

Next came the trip to the Archaeological Museum. Yes, that stop was primarily for Daddy and, yes, Benjamin was bored out of his mind and, yes, he did scream at the top of his lungs at least once in this perfectly quiet museum setting. Believe it or not, it was a wonderful memory.

And, of course, seeing as it was Daddy-Son day, there had to be at least one moment where he wanted mom. If it taught me one thing, it's that Benjamin sure loves his mommy... and testing his vocals:

Near to the Archaeological Museum was Topkapi Palace. This area had a very pleasant, very large courtyard, so we spent about an hour here. Benjamin and I played in the grass. He had a great time running around with his little Hotwheels car. A little-known fact about our son is that he enjoys pulling the petals off of beautiful, expensive-looking garden flowers in public places. It's an art, really...

And last, but not least, a trip to the courtyard in front of the Blue Mosque for a brief viewing of the fountains. Benjamin was tired and so was dad, but we managed one last memorable photo.

Thanks for spending the morning with me, Benjamin. And thank you, Father above, for such a wonderful gift. It will always be a special memory in my heart!

Please remember to pr for me. Ask that the Father above would teach me (rather, that I would learn) how to be a loving father to my son. I want him to know genuine love so that one day, he will understand and receive the love that is offered freely by his heavenly Father.


A Taste of Home

I love this picture for many reasons, but isn't it fun that the Blue Mosque is in the background... and they were selling Ben & Jerry's! Yummy....

Stroller Fun in Gulhane Park



The day before Benjamin's birthday, we decided to brave the tram and the metro once again. We had found a place that sounded like a very small sea world (dolphin water show) that sounded fun so we thought we would check it out. We had a general idea of where this place was, but weren't exactly sure. Well we sure had an adventure!!

We had told the man collecting the bus fare where we were going and he was going to tell us which stop to get off at. So when he waved at us we hurried off the bus and had no clue where to go from there. We saw a sign for the Dolphinarium that pointed in no direction that we could actually walk and said it was 1 km away. So, not knowing what else to do we just started walking!

About 45 minutes later we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and Benjamin and I (Julie) were getting cranky. No one we asked seemed to know where this place was! We had planned on making the 11am show, but as it was already almost 11 we gave up on that idea. We just asked Dad to give us patience and He ended up giving us some amazing gifts beyond what we expected for the day! Fun how that works, right?

We finally found signs of civilization (a gas station!!) and a very large, very beuatiful park with several playgrounds and walkways. We decided to take a break from our trek to let Benjamin run around and mom take a breather. Dad blessed us by watching Benjamin have so much fun and eventually gain independence and try the slide all by himself! Our hearts were so blessed to see him growing and exlporing. A few pictures from the park:

Pretty soon it was getting close to lunch time, so we decided to press on, knowing that this place was supposed to have a restaurant. We got back on the main road and almost immediately we found the parking entrance to the Istanbul Dolphinarium. Rejoice!! Thinking it couldn't be far, we stated off. Then, like a mirage in the desert, we saw it. And it was beautiful.

We ate a delicious lunch in a private dining room (there was NOBODY else in the restaurant and we literally had three guys waiting on us) overlooking the aquarium where we were able to watch the dolphins swimming. Benjamin was enamored and kept asking to see the Dolphins all during lunch. A few pictures from lunch:

The view from the dinning room

After we ate, and a short wait, we made it inside the aquarium for the show. Everything was in Turkish (except for the one time Keith took a picture and the host said in English no pictures please- oops!) so we had no idea exactly what was going on, but it was really neat to watch. Benjamin was so happy and all the long walk/frustration was completely worth it!

Praise Dad for His blessings to us and for a wonderful day!


Happy 2nd Birthday, Benjamin!

Our story actually begins the night before Benjamin's birthday as we were wrapping his birthday presents. We unknowingly bought shelf liner at the store instead of wrapping paper, so we had to take the backing part off and Keith used the sticky sided paper to make a "sticky sword" for Benjamin. We used the backing to wrap Benjamin's presents and make a big "Happy Birthday Benjamin" banner. The backing had squares on it, like graph paper, so Keith very meticulously spelled it out. We had also found a "Cars" banner which we know Benjamin would be excited about.

That night, Benjamin got sick. Bummer, I know! He woke up multiple times with a very slight fever and congestion. None-the-less, when we woke him up he was very excited, as you can see from the video (it starts out dark but gets lighter!):

Opening presents:

Since Benjamin wasn't feeling well, we decided to forgo the zoo and had a restful day instead playing with his new cars, watching some movies and eating McDonald's. Benjamin had a lot of fun and we all got some much needed rest. That night we went to the restaurant downstairs and got a big yummy brownie for his birthday dessert. Here is the video of us singing and some pictures of Benjamin eating his birthday brownie.

Happy Birthday our little man! May Dad richly bless you this coming year. We love you and are so blessed to be your parents!

Benjamin and the Slide

Did You Know?

That a bunny can tell you your future? We had to give this guy credit for creativity as he did have quite a crowd!

Another fun moment as we were walking around, was a man selling something yelled to Keith, "Excuse me sir, how can I take your money today?" Needless to say, that did slow us down a moment. More fun to come!

What Keith Has Done A Lot Of

A lot of the really cool historical places (and just walking around in general) are not very stroller friendly. Example:

My hero! Not only does he carry around the back pack with all of our paraphernalia, he picks up the stroller and carries it up and down a lot of stairs. Keith you are amazing!


At the mall they had a remote control race track set up, so of course we had to stop and let Benjamin and Keith race the cars. Benjamin is really into all things car related right now, so he had a blast and Keith had a blast with him. Vroom, Vroom!

The Biggest Mall in Europe

On third day here we decided to brave the Metro system and travel to the largest mall in Europe. It was definitely enormous, but nothing compared to the malls in Dubai! We walked around and enjoyed the shops, Starbucks and toy store, ate some lunch at Pizza Hut, and walked some more. In typical Benjamin fashion, he fell asleep towards the end. While we were there, we also took the opportunity to buy some birthday things for Benjamin! We were surprised that there was hardly anything in English, so imagine our surprise when we bought what we though was wrapping paper only to find out it was shelf liner. That's ok, when we post pics from Benjamin's birthday you will see we made it work! Enjoy the largest mall in Europe:

Topkapi Palace

We also were able to visit Topkapi Palace which was really neat, but not stroller/toddler friendly. Even so, we had a great time learning about the palace and the history and seeing some beautiful views of the Bospherous. Benjamin really enjoyed pushing around his own stroller and we were excited to let him just play and be a toddler. Enjoy a few more pics: